What is a Retainer Invoice & How to Make One in 2024

What is a Retainer Invoice & How to Make One in 2024

If you have a business or do freelance work, you may have had to deal with late payments. If so, have you ever questioned what you might have done differently to prevent them?

Well, we can answer that question for you. Issuing retainer invoices brings you one step closer to security, not only when it comes to late payments.

So, if you want to learn more about retainer invoices and how they might assist with late payments, then keep on reading!

What is a Retainer Invoice?

Before we get to the retainer invoice meaning, we should first think about retainer fees and what they are.

A payment made to reserve a service is known as a "retainer fee." It is not the entire amount due for the service; rather, it is a portion that has been paid before the service is provided.

While paying a retainer fee does not ensure that the service will be provided, you, as a client, are entitled to a refund if the deal falls through.

If you are a freelancer or a business owner who likes to collect retainer fees, then you will have to issue retainer invoices. Retainer invoicing is a bookkeeping technique that enables you to keep track of payments and enter the required data into your accounting software.

Do not feel intimidated if you have never dealt with retainer fees or retainer invoicing.

As you continue reading, you'll see that this form of invoice is not all that different from a standard invoice. The only notable difference is that you are giving a portion of the payment upfront rather than after the service has been rendered.

Why You Should Use a Retainer Invoice

As a business owner or a freelancer, you do not want to find yourself in a situation where you provide the service or the product but never get compensated for it.

Sometimes clients have no intention of paying, or they decide they do not like something and refuse to pay. There are instances where customers have financial difficulties and are unable to pay you.

You could therefore ask for a down payment to steer clear of these situations. In this scenario, you will ask for a retainer fee. Consider it a deposit you are receiving from your client.

With this money, there is a higher chance that the clients will be more dependable and that they will follow through on future payments, and your efforts will be at least partially repaid in the event that something goes wrong.

In addition, retainer fees help with project costs. There are occasionally costs involved in completing various projects or offering various services. If you get a retainer fee, you can use that money for the project or service and avoid running out of money to continue.

What Does a Retainer Invoice Include?

Now that you are familiar with retainer invoices, let's examine what exactly is included in one.

#1. Company and Client Contact Information

The first thing you should include in a retainer invoice is contact information. Start by listing your name, email, phone number, and physical address, and then do the same with the client’s information.

Contact details are essential, as they inform both parties of who they are dealing with and how to get in touch with one another in case of necessity.

#2. Invoice Date and Number

An invoice number is required on a retainer invoice. Every invoice has a unique number that serves as its invoice number. It provides the document with its legal form and is employed for accounting purposes.

The date of an invoice, or more particularly, the day it was issued, is something else that aids in bookkeeping. Additionally, you can provide the invoice due date because it helps clients know when to make payments so that there are no delays.

#3. Breakdown of Billed Services

Every service offered must be listed, along with the pertinent details that go with it. You may, for instance, include a description of the service, its duration, the applicable quantity, its cost, and so on.

To ensure that the client understands exactly what they are paying for, you must provide specifics.

#4. Payment Terms

Make sure to have a very clear payment terms section if you want to prevent any payment-related complications.

You should include all the payment options you accept in this section. Direct deposit, wire transfers, credit or debit cards, or services like PayPal are a few examples of these methods.

The more you list, the less likely it is that your customers will be late with their payments. There is a good likelihood that your clients will be familiar with at least one of the many payment choices available.

#5. Additional Notes

Finally, you can add an additional notes section if there is anything further you would like to include that was not covered in one of the earlier sections.

Here, you can specify things like late payment fees or anything else you think is acceptable and required for the growth and security of your business.

When Should You Send a Retainer Invoice?

You can issue a retainer invoice as soon as you and your client come to an agreement over the service or product offered and the anticipated amount of retainer fees. The client will be promptly reminded of the terms of the contract and will send the retainer fee, allowing you to get to work in a timely manner.

If you submit a retainer invoice sometime after the contract has been signed, the client can find it confusing, and you won't be able to begin working without the prepayment either.

When it comes to regular invoices, you can send them whenever it's necessary to obtain payment. You are free to send them as often as you choose and have agreed to, whether it's once a month, twice a month, and so on.

How to Create a Retainer Invoice Like a Professional

If you want to create a retainer invoice, there are two options available to you.

You can manually enter all the required data into Word or Excel. This method works fine, but it can also be very time-consuming and prone to errors. That's why we advise using an online invoice generator.

All you have to do is:

  1. Open our invoice generator
  2. Fill in the blank spaces with essential information
  3. Review the document and make sure it is free of errors
  4. Download it and send it to your clients

With only four simple steps, you can create a professional retainer invoice and use it repeatedly by changing a few details.

Different Types of Invoices

Knowing what kind of invoice to utilize for the services or products you are offering is essential to the success of your business. Some of the most common invoice types are:

  • Small business invoice. A small business invoice is a formal legal agreement between the parties that guarantees delivery of the service and payment for it.
  • Freelance invoice. This type of invoice is used by freelancers to guarantee payment for their work.
  • Deposit invoice. When requesting a down payment for goods or services that have not yet been delivered, a deposit invoice is utilized. It often represents a minor portion of the total amount payable.
  • Writer Invoice. No matter if they write full- or part-time, all writers need to have a writer's invoice. It protects writers from getting scammed.
  • Contractor invoice. Contractors who supply a variety of services for which payment is required utilize a contractor invoice.
  • Advance invoice. Before work begins, the clients receive an advance invoice. It serves to remind the client about their purchase and what to anticipate.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, after reading this article, you know more about retainer invoices and how to make use of them.

You and your company can be better protected if you request a retainer fee. By asking for an upfront payment, you reduce the risk of getting scammed by your clients and ensure that you have the resources needed to finish your project.

The best course of action is to use an online invoice generator if you want to create a retainer invoice hassle-free!

Retainer Invoice FAQ

#1. What should I write on a retainer invoice?

A retainer invoice should include all the things that a standard invoice does. Contact information, an invoice number and dates, a description of the work, payment terms, and any other information you consider relevant are a few of the details you should provide.

#2. How do I make an invoice for a retainer?

You can manually enter all the data into Word or Excel. However, this method might be rather inefficient, so we advise using an online invoice generator.

#3. What is a retaining invoice?

Receiving an upfront payment, or so-called retainer fee, is done through a retaining invoice. To guarantee the company's security and the availability of resources for the project at hand, this charge is collected prior to work starting.

#4. Is an invoice a contract?

Even though it has some legal basis, an invoice is not nearly a contract. The contract is ultimately what ensures the protection and security of all parties. An invoice is mainly utilized for billing and collecting payments for services rendered.

Key Takeaways

  • A retainer invoice is a type of invoice that is used to collect a prepayment or retainer fee before any services are provided.
  • Utilizing a retainer invoice is a smart move because it improves your chances of getting the agreed-upon payments.
  • A retainer invoice contains all the necessary details, including contact information, the invoice number and dates, the work description, etc.
  • As soon as an agreement has been made, a retainer invoice should be sent. The client will be reminded of the agreement and will send the retainer fee.
  • Utilizing an online invoice generator is the most effective method for creating a retainer invoice.


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